Man Who Suffered Fractured Skull And Brain Injury Opens Up About Rehabilitation Challenges During Covid-19 Lockdown
A professional stunt performer seriously injured on the set of the latest Fast and Furious film has spoken of how he is determined to continue with his recovery despite the challenges of lockdown.
Joe Watts from Epsom, Surrey was undertaking a stunt where he was being thrown from a balcony, when he sustained a fractured skull and traumatic brain injury in July 2019. He was put in an induced coma for five days.
He has been left with a number of physical and cognitive difficulties, for which he undergoes physiotherapy, neuropsychology, speech & language therapy and occupational therapy.
Following the accident, Joe, 32, and his fiancée Tilly Powell, 28, instructed specialist workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate and help him access the specialist support and treatment he requires to live his life as best he can.
Expert Opinion“This is a clearly devastating case, with Joe suffering life-changing injuries while taking part in a stunt on a film set.
“Joe’s life has been turned upside down since the accident. Joe has lost the career he loved and also his confidence in his physical and mental strength and abilities. However, he has demonstrated such bravery and determination to progress with his recovery.
“The impact of Covid-19 and lockdown has understandably put a strain on the lives of many people, particularly those relying on care and therapies. However, Joe has not let this stand in his way and he has worked extremely hard at his rehabilitation.
“While nothing can change what happened to him, we will continue to support Joe and Tilly as they move forward with their lives, by ensuring he has access to ongoing funding for the rehabilitation he needs.” Laura Middleton-Guerard - Partner
Joe, who also worked as a sports massage therapist, had been doing stunts for four years before sustaining his injuries. He is a member of The British Stunt Register and has worked on films and TV including Mission Impossible – Fallout, Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, Game of Thrones, as well as the recent television series Gangs Of London.
On the day of his accident, Joe was working on the set of Fast and Furious 9. He was required to undertake a stunt where he was thrown over the shoulder of another stunt performer over the side of a balcony approximately 25ft high. Unfortunately, instead of remaining suspended by a wire mid-air, Joe hit the concrete floor and was taken to the Royal London Hospital by air ambulance where he was diagnosed with a fractured skull and put into an induced coma for five days.
Joe spent a month in hospital at the Royal London and a further six weeks at the Wellington hospital. He had to learn a lot of basic skills again, including speech and everyday living.
A year on from the accident, Joe is still suffering from the aftermath.
Joe has undertaken multiple rehabilitation sessions with a neuropsychologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist amongst others. Some of these sessions have had to take place remotely following the introduction of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Despite this, Joe is motivated to work at his recovery.
He said: “I can’t recall any of what happened that day, but my life has changed dramatically since then. I am determined to maximise my recovery and I am grateful for the care I received at the Royal London Hospital, the Wellington Hospital and the Essex Air Ambulance Service.
“Since being discharged home, I have worked hard to get to where I am with my recovery. Lockdown has also slowed things down a bit, but I feel like I have made improvement. I believe part of the reason is because I was very fit and healthy beforehand and the clinicians brought on board by my case manager have been amazing.
“Unfortunately, I have not been able to do any work since the accident. But throughout all of this, Tilly has been a great support to me and I don’t know what I would have done without her. With her by my side, I am hopeful and determined to get my life back on track.”